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Modern Times

Modern Times is a 1936 film by Charlie Chaplin in which his Little Tramp character struggles to survive in an industrialized world. In one memorable and often parodied sequence, Chaplin's character is pulled into the gears of a machine and sent through it looking to tighten a bolt.

In another famous scene the Tramp sees a (presumably red) warning flag fall off the back of a van, picks up the flag and runs after it, waving the flag to try and attract the driver's attention. He does not realise that behind him a group of protest marchers has come around a corner; the police arrest him as their leader, believing the flag to be a communist banner.

After being released from jail, the Tramp rescues a young woman from the authorirties who want to put her in an orphanage, and tries to support her by getting a job. He doesn't have too much success; he is fired from a department store after failing to prevent a robbery, goes back to the factory for a day and then finds himself on strike, and has problems as a waiter in a cabaret when his route to a hungry customer is blocked by a crowd of dancers.

The scenes in the factory have a futuristic look and may have been influenced by Fritz Lang's Metropolis, but the rest of the film has a contemporary setting.

Modern Times was one of the last silent films made, although it did include sound effects, music, singers, and voices coming from radios and loudspeakers. Near the end of the film the Little Tramp's voice is heard for the first time as he ad-libs pseudo-French and Italian gibberish to the tune of a popular song.

Most of the film was actually shot at "silent speed", 18 frames per second, which meant that when projected at "sound speed", 24 frames per second, the slapstick action appeared even more frenetic. Chaplin must have noticed this on re-releases of his earlier silent films, and decided to re-create the effect deliberately.

The music score was composed by Chaplin himself. The romance theme was later given words and became better known as the song "Smile" ("Smile though your heart is breaking...") and was covered by such artists as Liberace and Nat King Cole.

The movie also stars Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Stanley Sandford and Chester Conklin. It was written and directed by Chaplin.

The film has been deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.